A Discipline Without Sympathy: The Happiness of the Majority and its Demise

18 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2005

See all articles by Sandra J. Peart

Sandra J. Peart

University of Richmond - Jepson School of Leadership Studies

David M. Levy

George Mason University

Abstract

Experimental economists frequently invoke Adam Smith's notion of sympathy, and experimental treatments typically examine sympathy in situations where two groups are involved. We explore additional implications of sympathy suggested by the work of later classical economists. We link the notion of sympathy to their majoritarian welfare analysis. Since sympathy provides a source of moral obligation, classical economists held that agents in democratic politics will refrain from unjust acts. We also consider how sympathetic agents may effect reforms that involve more than two parties, in which the benefits from the action accrue to someone who is not part of the 'exchange.'

JEL Classification: B12, D63

Suggested Citation

Peart, Sandra J. and Levy, David Milton, A Discipline Without Sympathy: The Happiness of the Majority and its Demise. Canadian Journal of Economics, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 937-954, August 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=772996

Sandra J. Peart (Contact Author)

University of Richmond - Jepson School of Leadership Studies ( email )

Jepson Hall
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

David Milton Levy

George Mason University ( email )

Carow Hall
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2319 (Phone)

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